GOP group appeals ruling striking down federal gay marriage ban

Posted Feb. 24, 2012, at 7:20 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO — Moving swiftly, gay-marriage foes Friday appealed a San Francisco federal judge’s order this week finding the U.S. government’s ban on same-sex marriage benefits unconstitutional.

In court papers, a group of congressional Republicans defending the federal gay-marriage ban revealed that they are appealing the ruling to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The 9th Circuit will become the second federal appeals court to consider the legality of the Defense of Marriage Act, a 16-year-old law known as DOMA.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White, a Republican appointee of former President George W. Bush, concluded that the federal law violates equal-protection rights because it denies the same benefits available to heterosexual couples.

The ruling came in the case of Karen Golinski and Amy Cunninghis, a San Francisco couple married in the brief window of time when gay marriages were legal in California, before voters in November 2008 passed Proposition 8 to ban same-sex marriage. Golinski, a lawyer for the 9th Circuit, argued in her lawsuit that she was unable to secure health benefits because of DOMA’s restrictions.

The Obama administration has sided with Golinski in the case, arguing that DOMA is unconstitutional. Republicans, led by U.S. House Speaker John Boehner, have jumped in to defend the law, filing Friday’s notice of appeal.

With cases unfolding in several federal courts, many experts predict the issue will wind up in the U.S. Supreme Court.

The 9th Circuit is also weighing a request to reconsider its ruling earlier this month finding Proposition 8 unconstitutional.

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